French Public Holidays
Most French national holidays are celbrated with local festivals and fireworks and are an opportunity for travellers to participate and experience French culture. Bastille Day, or the French National Day, is celebrated every July 14 in most communities with colourful fireworks displays, dancing, delicious street food and general merriment. Each small village seems to have their own organized party, so join the fun!
Christmas and New Years will have grocery stores brimming with special holiday treats and regional food such as foies gras, oysters and confites. It’s also a great time to take in concerts, festivals and events designed around the feast days which happen everywhere - Entre-Deux-Mers and all the wine areas, Bordeaux, Saint Emilion and through the Dordogne region and right up to La Rochelle.
The French cherish 11 national holidays or "Jours fereis" in the year. Only Labour Day, May 1st, is a public holiday by statute and the rest are granted by convention or agreed upon by employers’ and employees’ unions. With the exception of Easter, public holidays are fixed.There is a holiday nearly every week in May so be ready for stores, banks, museums and even restaurants and hotels to have a creative calendar for openings and closings. But this is all part of being uniquely French! When a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday it is quite normal to create a long weekend (faire le pont) and many businesses may close the entire time. Public transit may run on reduced service as well. The best advice is to call ahead to make sure who is open and when. Viva la difference!
It’s good to be aware of French school holidays as some hotels, holiday cottages and camp sites tend to be more crowded or expensive and bus services may be reduced. Weekends in the summer will be the busiest, particularly on Saturday, with a mass of traffic coming from Paris.